stack of colorful shipping containers

You don’t have to spend a lot on the right shipping container.

While shipping containers are used extensively in the transportation of cargo, they can be recycled and customised in several ways to serve other purposes.

So, whether you’re looking to buy shipping containers for transport, to make into a home, guest house, office, garage or garden shed, it’s important to know where to start so you can get the best deals available. You can save money and time when shopping for shipping containers by following these 10 tips:

  1. Define the purpose of your purchase. Are you going to use the shipping containers for their original use, for storage, business or for living purposes? Getting clear on your purpose will make the selection process a lot easier for you.
  2. Consider the container size that will best meet your project needs. Shipping containers come in a variety of sizes. Most of them are 2.44m (8 feet) wide and 2.59m (8.65 feet) tall, but they come in varying lengths measuring either 10ft, 20ft or 40ft long. Take the time to figure out the right size for your project needs to avoid costly mistakes.
  3. Decide whether to buy used, refurbished or new shipping containers. All options have advantages and disadvantages. Newer models are cleaner and usually problem free however they do cost a little extra money. Used models may have some damage but can be cheaper by around 30% to 50% less than the price of new containers. If you’re on a tight budget, buying used ones might be the best option for you. However, if your project requires pristine containers buying newer ones will give you peace of mind.
  4. Run a thorough inspection. Make sure that the containers you’re planning to buy are in good condition. Otherwise, your money will feel wasted in unexpected repairs or problems. You can have a professional inspector do it for you or just take your time to check and ask about any damage, dents, patches, significant rust or any possible leaks in the unit. Make sure that the one you’re getting is at the very least wind, watertight and vermin proof.

    stack of blue shipping containers

    Always request photos of the exact unit.

  5. Take note of age. This is especially important if you’re looking to buy used containers as they might have had extreme shipping histories. Keep in mind that any container older than 10 years may need refurbishing. Moreover, if the container is to be used for cargo transport it will need to be inspected and re-certified by a qualified marine surveyor. The certification will declare the container generally fit to use for 24 months but will need to be again recertified after the expiry date.
  6. Check the working mechanisms of the containers. These include the doors, locks, hinges, gasket seals, roofs and lower sidewall. They can all acquire some level of damage during their lives, whether in motion or stationary. Hence, checking everything is in good working order must be one of your priorities.
  7. Determine the extra features you need to have in your shipping containers. Depending on the nature of your project, you can purchase a shipping container that is wired for electricity, or that is refrigerated. Would you need easy access to your container? If yes, consider getting a container with doors at both ends or on one of the sides.
  8. Decide on modifications in advance. Some sellers of used shipping containers provide modifications, as well. For example, your containers of choice can have extra doors, windows, ventilation system, security locks and shelves upon your request and before they get delivered to you. Figure out whether it will be more convenient and cost-efficient for you to have such modifications made in advance.
  9. Plan for transportation and setup. Given their size and weight, these containers are difficult and expensive to transport from one location to another. Hence, it is practical to buy them from local dealers close to you. Know the exact position where you want your container delivered and always have a plan B up your sleeve in case accessibility is compromised. Getting this right may save you a lot of headaches down the track.
  10. Never buy containers you haven’t seen or inspected. There are too many horror stories about buying shipping containers unseen online. Find a local shipping container dealer that’s reputable and known and see the containers in person before you buy them. Alternatively ask for photographs of the exact unit you will be receiving.

Finding quality, affordable and customisable shipping containers doesn’t have to be a pain in the neck. Get in touch with us today if you need help in choosing the best type of containers suitable for your needs or read our guide on everything about shipping containers.